You are here: Home Dawkins New Atheists
Richard Dawkins: Only the 'Appearance' of 'Design for Purpose': The Billion Pound Brain Project
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Dawkins
Topics: Richard Dawkins

The Billion-Pound Brain Project

To the right is recent news article published on the BBC website (original). Its a 10-year long project dealing with neuroscience, aiming to "understand" the human brain. Scientists (thousands of them) are from 135 institutions, and a sizeable majority of them will probably share the view of Richard Dawkins that biological systems only give the "appearance" of "design for purpose."

Billions are being pumped into this project. It aims to first develop the technology needed just to create a simulation. The technology has to be first created and this type of creation requires knowledge (ilm), will (mashee'ah) and power (qudrah). These hundreds of scientists will be designing and creating this technology for a purpose.

The Human Brain Project is an attempt to build completely new computer science technology... The scientists involved accept that current computer technology is insufficient to simulate complex brain function. But within a decade, supercomputers should be sufficiently powerful to begin the first draft simulation of the human brain.

This project has been likened to the Human Genome Project,

The HBP can be viewed as the neuroscience equivalent of the Human Genome Project, which involved thousands of scientists around the world working together to sequence our entire genetic code. That took more than a decade and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

In the genome project, thousands of scientists used "advanced technology" to sequence the complex "operating systems" and "information processing systems" that run cell operations enabling life. A fair share of them who are committed to Materialism probably felt very proud of such a great achievement and of the knowledge, skill and wisdom they demonstrated in the task. Yet alongside that they deny any knowledge, skill and wisdom behind what they studied. But hold on...

...whereas that involved mapping every one of the three billion base pairs found in every cell that make up our entire genetic code, the Human Brain Project will not be able to map the entire human brain. It's simply too complex.

The brain has around 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells and 100 trillion synaptic connections. Instead the project aims to build a variety of computer simulations. Scientists at the University of Manchester are building a model which will mimic 1% of brain function.

All this sophisticated technology, designed and created by intelligent, knowing, willing, purpose-driven, wisdom-seeking humans will only be able to mimic 1% of brain function which came about through "random processes through the blind forces of physics mimicking design" and not through a knowing, willing, all-wise, all-powerful agent. The technology needed to study the entity (the brain) was designed and created for a purpose but the actual entity being studied (the brain) by its own like (the brains of the scientists involved) came about through undirected processes and only gives the appearance of design for purpose?

Steve Furber is then cited,

I've spent my career building conventional computers and I've seen their performance grow spectacularly. Yet they still struggle to do things that humans find instinctive. Even very young babies can recognise their mothers but programming a computer to recognise a particular person is possible but very hard.

To get computers to recognize people requires complex "programming" and even then it's very hard. But what is the real reason why this project has been given so much funding and importance?

The scientists believe unlocking those secrets would yield major benefits in information technology, with the advent of so-called neuromorphic computers - machines which learn like the brain.

It is to design and create (for a purpose of course) more sophisticated neuromorphic computers which learn like the brain. But Professor Makram makes it even more clear,

With this knowledge we could produce computer chips with specialised cognitive skills that mimic those of the human brain, such as the ability to analyse crowds, or decision-making on large and complex datasets.

So that we can produce (design and create for a purpose) computer chips with specialised cognitive skills, ability, analyse, decision-making. Now, that an entity created with these features is concrete evidence in and of itself for the (attributes of) knowledge, ability, will and power of its creator (whose existence thereby is also established by necessity) is axiomatic (self-evident) and a rational necessity (that does not even require experimentation). There is not a single atheistic argument that invalidates the previous sentence. "If nature is so 'clever' as to exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the universe? If the world's finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper workings of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings of nature are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance?" (P. Davies in Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory, 1984, p. 235). Note that many atheists who make the likes of these remarks of plain admission still try to find ways to ascribe this to "nature" or "physical law" and flee from the obvious.

In the inset column to the article we read something astounding,

But it will require an exaflop computer - 10 times more powerful that the Chinese supercomputer running at full potential - to even begin to simulate real-time brain activity. It is thought the first exaflop computer, capable of a billion billion calculations per second will be developed within a few years. But using current technology a computer that powerful would require much of the output from a power station. By contrast the human brain needs just 30 watts; the energy to run a light bulb.

A human brain needs only the energy of a light bulb to operate whereas the billion pound brain would require a huge power station, and even then it can only do 1% of what the brain does. Richard Dawkins, the militant atheists and hundreds of thousands of apparently intelligent scientists believe the brain was not "designed and created for a purpose" by a knowing, willing, able, powerful being. Rather, it was created by random, blind, undirected processes. They claim that this is rational and to suggest otherwise is irrational! All of their sayings ultimately reduce to rationally nonsensical claims, tautologies or contradictions such as "life was created by nature", or "matter organizes itself to create intelligent things", or "entities create themselves." No sound and rational mind can deny that there is definitely "design" and "creation" in what we observe. We see events of creation (or transformation) taking place around us all the time. From sperm and ovum to embryo to fetus to human, from seed to flower and plant and fruit, from egg to larva to pupa to butterfly - and underlying all of these processes is information, prescriptive information carried through the medium of DNA in genes. No sound, intelligent, honest, reasonable person can deny "design" and "creative process" in what is observed. The dispute is really about to whom or to what is this obvious design and creation ascribed. Atheists ascribe design and creation of that which is greater (the human brain) to chance ("random undirected processes") and necessity ("laws of the universe") and they ascribe the design and creation of that which is inferior (technology for the billion pound brain project) to their own knowledge, wisdom, will, desire and power and they boast and feel proud of their achievement. This indicates that inferring a designer from undeniable evidence of design is a rational necessity. It is a self-evident truth. Faced with this, atheists like Dawkins, due to their prior commitment to naturalism, offer the following in order to undermine what is actual design and then ascribe the "illusion of design" to undirected processes. (in The Blind Watchmaker): "Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning. The purpose of this book is to resolve the paradox to the satisfaction of the reader, and the purpose of this chapter is further to impress the reader with the power of the illusion of design" and also "All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind's eye. natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose at all." Note that the explanatory power of "natural selection acting upon random mutations" is being challenged and is becoming an increasingly discredited assertion in explaining the entire process of evolution. Evolutionary scientists are trying to move away from the "modern synthesis" as it is called to a more broader "extended" theory in order to provide more explanatory power. Putting this to one side, the point here is that a prior commitment to naturalism is what has forced this explanation from people like Dawkins, its the only logical explanation if you commit to naturalism. Blind physical, purposeless forces of nature create what appears to be designed. Thereafter "science" is defined very narrowly to exclude anything that is not based on this belief.

Written by Abū ʿIyād on 05/12/1434H (10/10/2013CE)

Link to this article:   Show: HTML LinkFull LinkShort Link
Share or Bookmark this page: You will need to have an account with the selected service in order to post links or bookmark this page.

Subscribe via RSS or email:
Follow us through RSS or email. Click the RSS icon to subscribe to our feed.


Related Articles:
Add a Comment
You must be registered and logged in to comment.